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Before the Internet

before the internet

Normally, I just nod my head in agreement with xkcd, but in this case, I must take exception. Before the Internet, life was much more exciting. There were things to do — the hard way — and much to accomplish. Not to mention all the challenging people and situations we faced before the Internet was created. For example:

  • dinosaurs
  • Nazis
  • pirates (the eye-patchy kind)
  • ninjas
  • C.H.U.Ds (though to be fair we’re still plagued by these in certain areas)
  • dinosaur-riding ninja Nazis (I would really like to see a cartoon of that one, if any budding artist are out there)
  • librarians.

Just sayin’.

Update:
On the other hand, the Internet does deliver on the awesome. It wouldn’t take much to add a Nazi armband to the ninja, plus: robot pirate!

how the world ends - robot pirate fighting dinosaur-riding ninja

Alltop is the Internet librarian of funny. Pic by Ctrl + Alt + Del.

Remembering The Beard Wars

bearded gentleman with an extremely long, matted beard

by Mark A. Rayner

“Captain Chiggerson, can you hear me? Captain?”

“I can hear you! I’m blind, not deaf.”

“Sorry Captain, but you didn’t seem to be responding,” the historian asked. He was a young man, and was frankly shocked by the Captain’s long beard, his lifeless eyes. He’d met many veterans of the Beard Wars, but he’d never gotten used to their dead stares, their broken minds, their creepy long beards.

“Well, I was thinking,” Captain Chiggerson explained.

“About the war?”

“Of course I was thinking about the war. What the hell is wrong with you, are you simple? You just asked me about what role I played in the war, ye whippersnapper!”

“Of course, Captain. I didn’t want to interrupt your train of thought, but these Flannigan pornograph recording cylinders are expensive, and they’re only good for a half-hour of recording time.”

“Well, it’s not a thing a man wants to think about. All the lives lost. The horrors”

“Naturally, but it’s important that future generations understand what happened during the Beard Wars. You know, so it never happens again,” the historian said. He sported an impressive set of friendly mutton chops, which left his chin bare, but otherwise covered his face with hair. It was an old-fashioned facial hair style, but he found it made his interview subjects more comfortable, and likely to answer his questions, because their hero, General Hiram I. R. Sute, made the style so famous.

Of course, his current subject couldn’t see, so it wasn’t helping. “So, you were going to tell me about the start of the wars. What did you do before the wars began?” the historian prompted.

“I was a barber.”

The End

The Fridgularity Buy my latest novel, which is the hairy tale of a fridge, a singularity, and a man who didn’t like to split hairs. Available in all formats in all the usual places online:

Paperback ($15.99)
Amazon.com | Independent Bookstores | Barnes & Noble Amazon.ca | Or get $3 off, if you buy it direct from Monkeyjoy Press. Use coupon code: YGMVFZZY. 

Ebooks (regular $4.95)
Kindle | SmashwordsKobo | Nook | iTunes

Alltop is always in need of a trim. bearded gentleman, a photo by Foxtongue on Flickr. Originally published June, 2012.

A Short History of Groundhog Day

Defeat of the Groundhogs!On February 2, it is customary in Canada and the United States to celebrate an annual tradition wherein we allow a chubby burrowing rodent to forecast the weather. This is an important ritual, but not for the reason that many people think.

Many believe this “holiday” can be traced back to an ancient pagan ritual called Imbolc, which was duly adopted by early Christians and turned into Candlemas. (This means Mass of the Candles, in which the clergy would perform ear candling on the most hairy-eared and disgusting member of each parish, in a metaphorical recreation of the time when Jesus performed the Ear Candling of Jergomethia, cleaning the aural canals of a score of waxy hermits, and curing them of their deafness.) Finally, this holiday or “holy day” was further perverted by the German-speaking populations of Pennsylvania, who fused the day with European folklore and a desire to celebrate fersommling, a kind of Pennsylvania Dutch orgy. (Obviously, these depravities are only celebrated by the Fancy Dutch, and eschewed by the more plain sects, such as the Amish, Dunkards and Mennonites.)

However, there live amongst some of the Elders in these plain sects of the Pennsylvania Dutch — or P-Dutch, as they are known on the streets of Philadelphia — the horrible, truthful truth.

Once, North America was largely ruled by these underground rodents of the family Sciuridae, and though they lived largely in peace with the native human populations, the arrival of the white man marked the end of their peaceful co-existence. For when the early settlers began tearing up the forests, and plowing the meadows where the groundhog, or woodchuck, lives, war between all men and the Tcuckbar (as the groundhogs call their own race) began.

The Whistle Pig, preparing to strikeAmongst the Elders of the Dunkards, this is known as the Grundschwein Zehekriege, or literally, “groundhog toe wars”; this name is taken from the favourite martial tactic of the Tcuckbar, which is to sever the large toe of a human being, and thus cause him to lose his balance, fall down, and then have his carotid artery savaged. Normally, groundhogs are peaceful herbivores, but when roused, they can eat up to twice their own weight in human flesh.

It is when they are thus engorged, looking almost like a bristly boar that they are most dangerous. Indeed, one of their other names is taken from this state: while in boar mode, the average groundhog will make a high-pitched sound, from whence their nickname, “whistle pig” derives.

During this dark period of the war, many humans took to fighting one another, or slaughtering local wolf populations, for no-one could believe such excessive butchery could be done by the lowly woodchuck — and the groundhog attackers were always disappearing into holes or climbing trees before humans could spot them. (You didn’t know they could climb trees, did you? Then you probably don’t know about their limited psychokinetic ability to move small objects such as golf balls, musket balls, and human eyes.)

Eventually, through an uncharacteristic adoption of empiric method the P-Dutch Fußführer (or “Foot Leader”), Johann Suppetrinker, figured out it was the groundhogs, and the war turned to the favour of the human forces. Unfortunately, most humans outside the P-Dutch Confederacy did not believe Suppetrinker’s explanation, and it took many years for the humans to gain control of the situation.

Ritual humiliation of defeated groundhogTo this day crack forces of Amish and Mennonite Grundschweinmörders (Groundhog Killers) spend part of every winter season hunting down resistant forces of the dangerous Tcuckbar groundhog clans. Luckily, evolution has done the rest of the work for us, and the remaining non-sentient species is largely harmless, except to the occasional horse or golfer.

But this is why we celebrate Groundhog Day, and the annual humiliation ritual surrounding it. Otherwise, what other explanation could there be for the pomp and elaborate circumstance of this winter rite? Punxsutawney Phil and Wiarton Willie are not terrified by their own shadow, so much as the deep racial memory of seeing the figure of an Amish Grundschweinmörder, poised to spit him on a finely crafted spitzerstock. (Pointed stick.)

And they’ve only been slightly more accurate at predicting the end of winter than the Farmer’s Almanac, the P-Dutch edition included.

Alltop doesn’t believe that Wiarton Willie even exists. Picture of ritually humiliated groundhog courtesy of Scottobear. Brilliant artwork of Whistle Pig preparing to strike by ~Artsammich. Defeat of groundhog poster by Northfield.org.

Selected Media Fads Through the Ages

Von Willendorf venus statue, circa 24,000 bce

24,000-22,000 BC: chunky fertility goddess statues (pictured at right: notice the prominent and large brains.)

10,000 BC: cave painting

4,000 BC: ziggurat construction

3,000-1,250 BC: pyramid raising (later revived by Mesoamericans and I.M. Pei)

1480-1700: Witch burning

1500s: homoerotic sonnet writing

1600s: pirate singing

1700s: pamphleteering

1760-1762: spreading syphilis

1790s: opera

1800s: novel-writing

1900-1914: being optimistic about the future

1919-1922: cutting up pieces of paper and pulling them out of a hat, also, painting

1925: jazz music

1927: soap-based radio

1933: burning books (mostly in Germany)

1951: find-the-commie (kind of like peek-a-boo, but with Senators)

1964: screaming (usually Beatle-related)

1966: TV

1976: disco

1977: DIY pet rocks

1982-1988: taking odds on Reagan-related nuclear holocaust

1987-1997: making answering machine messages (see below)

1998: web sites about your cat

1999: cappuccino drinking (related to dot-com bubble)

2000: looking forward to the future (this didn’t last as long as the previous fad in this genre)

2003: Friendster

2004-2005: blogging

2006: MySpace

2007: Facebook

April 2008: Twitter

2009 (Jan.-Aug): talking/writing/broadcasting about Twitter in MSM.

2009, Sep. 15: Blogging (again, briefly, but only about Dan Brown’s latest “masterstroke of storytelling”

2010 (Jan.-Feb.):getting really excited about the release of the iPad.

2010 (Mar.): trying to remember what all the fuss about the iPad was all about.

2010: “winning

2011: pretending the British Royal family is important

2012: posting pictures of every frickin’ meal on Instagram

2013: twerking

2014: “binge-watching” TV

And yes, Answering machine messages was the most important creative outlet of the nineties!

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Video here if it doesn’t beep.

Alltop and enjoys their Bebo. From my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. Originally published in 2010, and updated!